History of Oris Watches

Distinguishable for its red winding rotor, Oris is an esteemed mechanical wristwatch manufacturer that spans a history of over 100 years. With inextricable links to the motorsport industry, thanks to the Chonoris, and its work with professional divers to produce the famous ProDiver, it’s clear to see how the brand has become the number one choice for many when it comes to choosing reliable, robust wristwatches for daring exploration. Oris also launched various pilot watches during the 1940s, namely the Pointer Date worn by the US Air Force Pilots during World War II as part of the iconic Big Crown series.

Founded in 1904 in Holstein, Switzerland, Paul Cattin and Georges Christian named their company after a nearby brook. Between 1906 and 1925 another 5 more factories would be opened in Switzerland, taking on a total of 300 employees. The mix of designers, watch technicians and skilled artisans would be responsible for developing and supplying premium mechanical watches fitted with reliable movements and highly technical features. Watchmaker Jacques-David LeCoultre, grandson of the famed Antoine LeCoultre (who also became managing director of Jaeger LeCoultre) became president for Oris after Georges Christian passed away in 1927.

Between the years of 1939 and 1945, Oris began supplying wristwatches to the military during the Second World War. Released just a year after the brand’s first escapement, the Big Crown watch was easy to utilize under thick pilot gloves and came equipped with a Pointer Calendar function. Having received awards for accuracy and creating the company’s first alarm clocks, the 8-day clock was released in 1949 followed by the first automatic movement just three years later, the Calibre 601.

During the sixties, Oris began manufacturing Swiss lever escapements and focussed its attention on creating diver watches. The first model boasted luminescent markers, a unidirectional rotating bezel, a bold design and a water resistant case. The Oris Calibre 652, with a superior lever escapement, was chronometer certified and accurate to the highest Swiss standards. By 1969 Oris had become one of the world’s top 10 largest watch companies and employed over 800 people over various factories in Holstein and beyond.

The seventies marked the release of the iconic Chronaris watch for Oris, a motorsport inspired chronograph which would later be relaunched in 2005. Fast forward 21 years and Oris had marked its decision to create mechanical wristwatches only with the release of its most complicated calibre so far, the Calibre 581 with moon phase module. The Oris Worldtimer was released in 1992, appealing to the avid traveller with its ability to adjust local time forwards or backwards in one hour jumps via the simple push of a button.

The automatic BC3 developed by Oris gave aviation timepieces a fresh new look during the end of the nineties, followed by the Oris’ XXL line of casual sports watches, giving collectors a choice between three watch sizes. In 2002 the red rotor symbol became Oris’ official logo. Symbolizing Swiss accuracy, the logo was featured in the Artelier watch collection which entered the company’s portfolio in 2003. A year later Oris had patented its Quick Lock Crown technology, which required the crown to be twisted just 120 degree to secure it into place.

Over the last 20 years Oris has developed the BC4 Flight Timer with three time zones, the Rotation Safety System integrated into the unidirectional rotating bezel, and the sliding sledge clasp that prevents the watch from falling off the wrist even when the safety clasp has come undone. In addition to this, Oris partnered up with the Australian Marine Conservation Society to raise awareness of the importance of preserving the Great Barrier Reef in 2010. Other innovations like the Oris Artix GT Chronograph, the Aquis Depth Gauge and Oris Big Crown ProPilot Altimeter exemplify the Swiss company’s pioneering spirit in the sporting, diving and aviation world.